Paul Cartledge

The Late Great

Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire

By

Oxford University Press 320pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Mass battlefield slaughter, treachery, assassinations, intrigues – ancient Greek politics as usual? Not exactly: the subjects under discussion are the wars of succession to Alexander the Great (died 323 BC), during which some fifteen contenders slugged it out for over forty years (to 281 BC) to try to establish some sort of permanent hold on at least a significant part of Alexander’s hypertrophied but inchoate empire. The outcome of this struggle in its turn formed the backdrop to the emergence of the Hellenistic (Greekish, Greekising) world and, within it, the rise of both pagan and then Christian Rome. This was a world, in other words, that lay on the cusp between Eastern and Western civilisation and between the Greek and Roman eras. It was also an epoch of unusual creativity, especially in the fields of philosophy, literature and the visual arts. Hardly a trivial topic, then, but also hardly an easy one to tackle.

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